17 doctors weighed in:
Is sleep apnea inherited?
17 doctors weighed in

Dr. Ofer Jacobowitz
ENT - Head & Neck Surgery
8 doctors agree
In brief: Yes
Yes, it is often inherited, but not always.
One reason has to do with the fact that we look similar to our relatives. The facial bone growth determines the size of the airway and may be narrow in families with sleep apnea. Other familial factors may be obesity, size of tonsils and adenoids, muscle tone and how we breathe when we sleep.

In brief: Yes
Yes, it is often inherited, but not always.
One reason has to do with the fact that we look similar to our relatives. The facial bone growth determines the size of the airway and may be narrow in families with sleep apnea. Other familial factors may be obesity, size of tonsils and adenoids, muscle tone and how we breathe when we sleep.
Dr. Ofer Jacobowitz
Dr. Ofer Jacobowitz
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1 comment
Dr. James Donley
I agree. There are other factors also to be considered. An infant that is breast fed will have the jaws better developed. The lower jaw is less likely to be retruded which means the tongue is positioned forward which is then is in less obstructive position. The upper jaw will be wider. A narrow, high palate reduces the size of the nasal airway also reducing the airflow. Appropriate oral orthopedic appliances in the young child can aid in developing the jaws further to improve the airway.
Dr. Patrick Melder
ENT - Head & Neck Surgery
2 doctors agree
In brief: No
Sleep apnea is not inherited per se.
There is no identified gene that causes sleep apnea but it tends to be familial - runs in families.

In brief: No
Sleep apnea is not inherited per se.
There is no identified gene that causes sleep apnea but it tends to be familial - runs in families.
Dr. Patrick Melder
Dr. Patrick Melder
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Dr. Ravi Chand
Psychiatry
1 doctor agrees
In brief: Genetic
Good question. We need studies to confirm this but genetic basis could be supported in the fact that asian race though not obese have a narrow airway and can have sleep apnea.

In brief: Genetic
Good question. We need studies to confirm this but genetic basis could be supported in the fact that asian race though not obese have a narrow airway and can have sleep apnea.
Dr. Ravi Chand
Dr. Ravi Chand
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Dr. Asher Turney
Occupational Medicine
1 doctor agrees
In brief: OSA unlikely genetic
Less likely in obstructive sleep apnea.
Main cause for obstructive is obesity, some other risk factors include age>50, male sex, comorbidities with diabetes and hypertension, body mass index (more likely in overweight), larger than 17 inch neck (men) and 16 inch (females) and enlarged tonsils. Many doctor have to screen for sleep apnea. But just as s central sleep apnea is more genetic related.

In brief: OSA unlikely genetic
Less likely in obstructive sleep apnea.
Main cause for obstructive is obesity, some other risk factors include age>50, male sex, comorbidities with diabetes and hypertension, body mass index (more likely in overweight), larger than 17 inch neck (men) and 16 inch (females) and enlarged tonsils. Many doctor have to screen for sleep apnea. But just as s central sleep apnea is more genetic related.
Dr. Asher Turney
Dr. Asher Turney
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Dr. Ronald Achong
Surgery - Oral & Maxillofacial
In brief: Depends
What type of sleep apnea? Central or peripheral? I assume you meant peripheral where all patients have an airway issue.
This type of sleep apnea depends on the anatomy of the nasal cavity, jaws, tongue, oral cavity and throat with the associated amount of excess tissue. This is not inherited.

In brief: Depends
What type of sleep apnea? Central or peripheral? I assume you meant peripheral where all patients have an airway issue.
This type of sleep apnea depends on the anatomy of the nasal cavity, jaws, tongue, oral cavity and throat with the associated amount of excess tissue. This is not inherited.
Dr. Ronald Achong
Dr. Ronald Achong
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Dr. Glenn MacFarlane
Dentistry - Cosmetic
In brief: NO NOT REALLY
There is no inherent gene to say this.
It's more likely the family traits. Obesity is a big one. If you have the same stature as one or both parents, and they have sleep apnea, you're sure to have it too. Regardless, see a sleep specialist and have a sleep study done. If it is weight you can have control over that.

In brief: NO NOT REALLY
There is no inherent gene to say this.
It's more likely the family traits. Obesity is a big one. If you have the same stature as one or both parents, and they have sleep apnea, you're sure to have it too. Regardless, see a sleep specialist and have a sleep study done. If it is weight you can have control over that.
Dr. Glenn MacFarlane
Dr. Glenn MacFarlane
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